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Veterans Day – Day of HOPE

The PGA of America has a deep passion for honoring veterans and active military around the country. Veterans Day is November 11, 2021 and the PGA of America has also declared this a Day of HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere). 

In conjunction with the day, some of our golf facilities will be offering the following to veterans as a small token of saying thank you for your service:

Mulligans Creekside, North Ogden
Veterans get a free bucket of balls. Valid November 11.

Eagle Mountain Golf Course, Brigham City
Veterans play for free at Eagle Mountain that day. (just need to pay for cart). Please call or visit our website to make a tee time. Please mention you are a veteran when making your tee time. Valid November 11.

Glenmoor Golf Club, South Jordan
Veterans will receive 1 free medium bucket of balls, 1 free fountain drink, and a free 10 min lesson in the Indoor Center from 8am-4 pm. Valid November 11.

Glen Eagle Golf Course, Syracuse
Veterans: 18 holes with cart-$25/ 9 holes with cart $15. Free small bucket of balls for Veterans. Valid November 11.

Top Golf
From 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm Kevin Connole will be giving free 15 minute golf lessons to veterans. Visit his bay at Topgolf (bay 217) and he would be happy to check out your swing.  Valid November 11.

Logan River Golf Course
Free golf for all Veterans. 9 or 18 holes. Cart included. Show us your military ID and play for free. Thank you for your service. Valid November 11th and 12th

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Team Utah Wins the 2021 National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Championship

By Anthony Witrado, PGA of America

Ryder Huish stood over his ball in the 18th fairway, half of his Team Utah (Lehi) teammates waiting for him near the green with the 2021 National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Championship waiting to be secured.

Adding to the pressure, Huish’s teammate’s ball had found the water near the green seconds before. So Huish grabbed his 5-iron from 180 yards, landed the ball on the front of the green and watched it roll out … and roll out … and roll out, until it came to rest inside 10 feet from the hole, putting Huish and teammate Austin Shelley, 13, from Salt Lake City – and their six other teammates – in position to lock down the title.

After two-putting the par 5 for birdie minutes later, the Championship belonged to the team from Utah with a 7.5-4.5 win over Team Connecticut (Torrington) at Grayhawk Golf Club on Sunday afternoon, which aired live on ESPN2.

“When I saw Austin’s ball in the water, I cried inside,” Huish, 11, from Highland, joked. “I said, ‘I have to hit a good shot here or it’s over.’ I pulled out my 5-iron, I felt confident, and I executed well.”

To read the complete feature from Fairways Photo Journal CLICK HERE:  https://tinyurl.com/5en9h4cm

Photo courtesy of the PGA Of America

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Matt Baird Wins Utah PGA Professional Championship

By Kurt Kragthorpe

Joshua Leddy may not have followed through on his victory in the Utah Assistant PGA Championship as well as he hoped, but he certainly assisted Matt Baird on the way to a third title in the Utah Section PGA Championship.

In one of those breaks that champions sometimes need, Baird luckily learned to play enough break on what became the winning putt Thursday at Toana Vista Golf Club in West Wendover, Nevada. Baird benefited from Leddy’s having putted on a similar line on No. 9, their 18th hole of the final round. Baird knocked in a 20-footer for a birdie that gave him an 8-under-par total and a one-stroke victory over Pete Stone and Tommy Sharp.

That’s how the Riverside Country Club teaching pro concluded his round of 7-under 65, bouncing back from what he labeled a “chili-dipped” tee shot on the previous hole, leading to his only bogey of the day.

If not for Leddy’s coincidental lesson, who knows what may have happened in a playoff involving Baird? “Honestly,” Baird said, “when he hit the putt, it broke more than I thought.”

Baird adjusted his aim, made the putt and was proud of his final round. In that moment, though, Baird was thrilled just to have qualified for the PGA Professional Championship. As three more groups finished, it became apparent that there was much more in store for him.

Having earned the $5,000 first prize, Baird celebrated by pouring Mountain Dew into the crystal trophy that will join Section Championship awards from 2010 and ‘15 on his shelf.

Every win is rewarding, but this one meant the 46-year-old Baird had succeeded in overcoming the putting problems that held him back during an opening-round 71, He stood four strokes behind Chris Moody, Riverside’s head professional, and three shots back of Stone.

“I just had this feeling of, ‘You can get the job done,’” Baird said. “That was my main thought all day.”

He needed some reminding after failing to birdie his first hole, the par-5 No. 10. “Oh, great,” he wryly told himself, but that’s how the day turned out: Great.

He birdied seven of the first 15 holes and moved into the lead, only to make one of the worst swings of his pro career with a short iron. His shot on No. 8, a hole measuring 174 yards, left him with a 96-yard second shot after he tried to finesse that 8-iron.

“I just laughed,” Baird said.

After that bogey, Tele Wightman, another member of Baird’s foursome, told him, “You’re hitting it good, just make birdie here.”

With the help of seeing Leddy’s line, Baird made it happen. And then he waited, as Sharp and Stone tried to catch him. Sharp, the 2017 winner, birdied No. 6 to reach 5-under for the day and 7-under for the tournament, before parring the last three holes. Stone, a perennial contender in this event, birdied No. 7 to tie Baird. But then Stone endured his own misadventures on No. 8, with a tee shot that sailed way right and resulted in a bogey.

On No. 9, Sharp and Stone had longer birdie putts than Baird, on similar lines. Each missed on the low side and walked off the green disappointed to have tied for second place.

As consolation, they also advanced to the PGA Professional Championship in April at Austin, Texas. So did Moody (67-71), Todd Tanner (69-70) and Casey Fowles (70-71), whose birdie on the last hole enabled him to avoid a six-way playoff for the last spot. Defending champion Joe Summerhays (70-71), who tied for sixth place with Fowles, is exempt after a top-20 finish in the 2021 event in Florida and Steve Schneiter has a lifetime invitation as the 1995 champion.

Bruce Summerhays Jr. became the first alternate after a playoff that involved Tracy Zobell, the Senior division champion. Zobell (74-68) played from the back tees in order to compete for the national berth, as did Mark Owen, who tied with Clark Garso for second place, one stroke behind.

Terry Outzen (76-69) and Scott Brandt (71-74) shared first place in the Super Senior (60-over) division. Don Branca (75-74) took the Legend (70-over) title, 46 years after posting his second consecutive victory in the State Amateur.

Full Results

Tournament Photos

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Fribbs Wins Utah Open with Double Eagle

By Kurt Kragthorpe

One swing with a 7-iron Sunday afternoon radically altered Derek Fribbs’ story of the 2021 golf season.

Internet search engines may forever distinguish himself as the witness of a fight in his threesome in the middle of a golf course in Kansas in June, but Fribbs created his own lasting impression of the year with a double eagle on Riverside Country Club’s 15th hole. The shot from 215 yards completed his 4-3-2 sequence (par is 5-4-5) in the northwest corner of the property and powered the Colorado pro to a victory in the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open.

“Just hit a perfect shot,” Fribbs said.

Fribbs posted 66-63-64 for a total of 23 under par, three shots better than Idaho pro T.K. Kim, earning a $20,000 check and a nice 31st birthday (Monday) present for himself a year that otherwise was memorable for the wrong reasons.

“At least, I’m the good guy in the story,” he said good-naturedly, when the fight during a Korn Ferry Tour qualifying event came up during the winner’s news conference. “I wasn’t beat up or arrested.”

The double eagle will have its own place in Utah pro golf lore as a highlight of a weekend when BYU golfer Kerstin Fotu of Alpine became the first woman to play the final round of the Utah Open, an event first staged in 1926.

Kerstin Fotu

“Honestly, I’m pretty proud of myself,” said Fotu, who received an exemption into the tournament as the Utah Women’s Open champion and shot 1 under par for two rounds before adding a 76. “I wanted to make the cut, and that’s what I did. It’s super motivating to see some things pay off that I’ve been working on and also to see what I need to work and sharpen up going into the fall season.”

After all he has achieved in Utah amateur golf and as a PGA Tour player, Daniel Summerhays of Fruit Heights also made a strong showing with a closing 65. In his first Utah Open appearance, Summerhays tied for third at 17 under with Matt Marshall, who settled for an even-par 72 after a 62-65 start.

Daniel Summerhays

“The second round killed me.” said Summerhays, who shot 63-71-65. “I knew I was going to have to be in the 20s [under par] to have a chance. … I was definitely frustrated [Saturday]. I mean, it would be pretty cool to have my name on the Utah Open trophy.”

BYU’s Cole Ponich of Farmington rode a 65-67 weekend to low-amateur honors at 13 under, tying for ninth place overall. Host pro Chris Moody tied with Tommy Sharp as the top-performing Utah Section PGA member at 10 under, earning $1,400 bonuses as they tied for 14th.

CBS Sports football analyst Tony Romo, the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback, tied for 42nd place at 4 under, finishing 11th among the amateurs with a 73 on Sunday. Romo earned a $180 merchandise credit in the Riverside golf shop to supplement his $17 million broadcasting salary.

Tony Romo

Fribbs was thrilled to pack his oversized, cardboard check into the back of Zahkai Brown’s vehicle for the ride home to the Denver area. Brown, the Utah Open’s winner in 2016 and the low pro in ‘17, has turned this event into steady income. He tied for fifth Sunday, earning $5,500.

Picking places to play for golfers without any PGA Tour-brand status is a matter of “convenience,” Fribbs said, along with economics: “You don’t want to spend a lot of money to win a little bit of money.”

Fribbs’ money shot was timely, considering how Kim had just holed a 42-yard pitch shot for an eagle on the par-4 No. 14 to get within one stroke.

“I thought it was ‘Game on,’ ” Kim said. “I felt confident, until he made that albatross.”

Yeah, that “2” changed everybody’s outlook. “I was just telling myself to keep doing what I’m doing,” Fribbs said. “It worked for 50 holes, so I might as well keep doing it.”

That 51st hole will be the one he remembers for a long, long time.

During the post-tournament ceremony on the 18th green, a moment of silence was observed for Mike Stanger, a former Utah State golfer in the mid 1980s and a longtime golf manufacturer’s representative, working with Utah Section PGA professionals. Stanger’s sons, Brock and Dalton, were playing together in Friday’s first round when they were informed of their father’s death.

Devin Dehlin, the Section’s executive director, became emotional as he spoke of a “melancholy day” framing the tournament. Dehlin also cited the observation of Dean Wilson, a former BYU golfer and PGA Tour player, who returns annually to Riverside and was this year’s low senior, tying for 11th place. Wilson labeled the event “a celebration of Utah golf.”

Results

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A Home Course Win for Kerstin Fotu

By Kurt Kragthorpe

BYU golfer Kerstin Fotu hardly played like a former champion in this summer’s Women’s State Amateur, barely advancing to match play after posting an 83 and then losing convincingly to teammate Lila Galea’i in the first round in Farmington.

Fotu’s performance in the fifth annual Siegfried & Jensen Utah Women’s Open was an entirely different story. She became the third collegiate winner in a row, covering the event’s Thanksgiving Point Golf Club era. Fotu overtook California pro Gabrielle Gibson on the back nine Tuesday, posting 69-68 for a 7-under-par total and a one-stroke victory.

Kerstin Fotu’s tee shot on the 36th hole of the Utah Women’s Open.

Gibson, a former University of Wyoming golfer, earned $1,500 as the low pro. Bingham High School graduate Tess Blair, a Sacramento State golfer, birdied Nos. 16 and 17 to finish third, another shot back. Haley Sturgeon, a pro from Bountiful, tied for fourth with Juli Erekson, the Utah Valley University women’s golf coach and a sister of Thanksgiving Point Director of Golf Tele Wightman. Galea’i, the State Am winner, finished sixth.

Gabrielle Gibson

Fotu quickly overcame her State Am showing by going to California and shooting a 66 to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Amateur. She failed to reach match play at Westchester Country Club in New York (where Blair won a first-round match), but Fotu looked good at Thanksgiving Point, the course she primarily grew up playing.

Her iron game was especially sharp this week, with solid ball-striking and improved distance control. “That was something that really killed me at the State Am,” she said, “just [not] being able to score.”

Fotu thrived on Thanksgiving Point’s back nine, playing those holes in 5 under par for two days, while the rest of the field struggled with the wind. “I just tried to learn from last year,” she said, “because last year the wind kind of got in my head and I didn’t play as well. I just tried to club up and swing easy, and that helped my ball flight.”

Gibson’s one-stroke lead remained intact through Tuesday’s front nine, but then she made her first bogey of the tournament on the par-4 No. 10. Fotu birdied that hole to move ahead, and added another birdie on the par-4 No. 12.

In what became a two-woman duel, Fotu’s lead was cut to one stroke when she bogeyed the par-5 No. 14, but she recovered with a birdie on the par-3 No. 15. Gibson birdied the par-4 No. 16, only to have her tee shot barely clear the Jordan River on the par-3 No. 17, leading to a bogey.

With her two-stroke lead restored, Fotu was able to absorb Gibson’s birdie on the par-4 No. 18 – not that she was sure where she stood in relation to players in the groups ahead of them, even with on-line scoring updates available.

“Honestly, I didn’t pay attention at all,” she said. “I had no idea.”

She liked how it all turned out, though. Fotu followed San Francisco’s Annika Borrelli and UNLV’s Veronica Joels as amateur winners of the Utah Women’s Open, after current BYU assistant golf Lea Garner took the first two titles in Provo. Garner also was the low pro in 2020; Gibson is the first out-of-state pro to claim the tournament’s biggest check.

And while Garner came close to winning the State Am, Fotu has a place in history as the first champion of both tournaments.

Full Results

Tournament Photos

Haley Sturgeon

Familiar Names to Compete at Symetra Tour Copper Rock Championship

By Kurt Kragthorpe

Road to the LPGA

When she joined the BYU women’s golf program as a non-scholarship player from North Carolina, Kendra Dalton (cover photo) was not a likely LPGA Tour prospect.

Here she is, though, closer to reaching that level than any former Cougar since Carrie Summerhays Roberts, now BYU’s coach, who qualified for the LPGA Tour nearly 20 years ago. Dalton is an established player on the Symetra Tour, which is staging the inaugural Copper Rock Championship this week.

The event is a homecoming for Dalton and Haley Sturgeon, a Dixie State University graduate who received a sponsor exemption to compete for the $200,000 purse Thursday through Saturday at Copper Rock Golf Club in Hurricane.

Kendra Dalton

As the fourth of 20 tournaments in 2021, the Copper Rock Championship is another opportunity for Dalton to move up the money list. She’s 3 for 3 in making 36-hole cuts and, while her final rounds could be better, she likes the way she’s playing.

Dalton won consecutive tournaments on the Cactus Tour in Arizona in February, when some members of both the LPGA and Symetra Tours were preparing for their seasons. Those performances reflected the work she has done with Milo Lines, a former Utah Section PGA member who’s now teaching at Superstition Mountain GC in Arizona.

“My game’s really good and I’m excited to play the whole year and I feel good about moving on and getting (LPGA) status,” Dalton said.

That would require finishing in the top 10 on the Symetra Tour money list; Dalton is No. 27 through three events.

Dream Come True

Sturgeon was thrilled when John Horton, Copper Rock’s head PGA professional, awarded her the exemption into the Copper Rock Championship. As she said in February, after Horton delivered the news on the driving range during the Utah Section PGA’s Winter Classic, the exemption “kind of just seemed like a far-fetched dream when I first asked John about it.”

Haley Sturgeon

Sturgeon, who works as an assistant pro at The Country Club of Salt Lake City, is making her first Symetra Tour appearance. “Hopefully, it’s not my last,” she said.

The Korn Ferry Tour, the men’s equivalent of the Symetra Tour, offers a spot in the next event to any player who finishes in the top 25. In Sturgeon’s case, she would have to win the Copper Rock Championship to gain any status. She’s embracing that opportunity, while eager to see how her game compares.

Here’s a good sign: Sturgeon finished solo fourth in the Cactus Tour event that Dalton won in a three-way playoff with two touring pros in Queen Creek, Arizona. That performance showed her that “I can compete with those girls, even though I don’t have status, and knowing that I belong here,” Sturgeon said.

Dalton is a BYU success story, having improved every year of her stay in Provo. She was known for consistency, finishing in the top 20 in 29 of 45 events for the Cougars. In her final three years, she won three tournaments and finished second seven times. She helped BYU reach the NCAA Championships as a sophomore in 2016, the same year when she beat teammate Lea Garner in the final match of the Women’s State Amateur at Victory Ranch.

And in 2018, she turned pro and immediately qualified for the Symetra Tour, via the LPGA Tour Qualifying Tournament. She made 21 starts in the 2019 season and finished 56th on the money list with $20,185. That showing became even more significant when the COVID-19 pandemic reduced the tour’s 2020 schedule to 10 events, while every player’s status was frozen through 2021.

In essence, golfers’ 2020 earnings didn’t matter, as everyone started over this season. That helped Dalton, who expects to thrive in her third year. “I know what the travel is like, I know a lot of the golf courses, I know how the tour kind of runs,” she said. “And all of it’s a little bit overwhelming your first year, because it’s so different from college golf; you’re kind of out there on your own trying to figure it out. So that definitely is a nice thing, to feel a little more at ease.”

Sturgeon hopes to feel comfortable in the Copper Rock Championship. She has done everything she could to prepare for her Symetra Tour debut, traveling to Hurricane several times in the past two months.

The former Haley Dunn is married to Davis Sturgeon, who she describes as “my kindergarten sweetheart.” She’s working steadily toward PGA membership, while trying to maximize her playing ability.

Before focusing on golf, Sturgeon was a high-level junior ski racer and a Layton High School cheerleader known as the “tumble queen.” Injuries led her to give up ski racing, and she considered cheerleading in college before pursuing golf at Utah Valley University and then Dixie State.

Sturgeon won two Pac-West Conference individual titles for DSU, helping the women’s golf program get established. She pointed to those St. George-area ties in asking for the sponsor exemption, and she’s determined to follow through with a good showing in the Copper Rock Championship. Dalton and Sturgeon are part of featured pairings in the first two rounds, as announced by the Symetra Tour. Dalton will tee off at 8:47 a.m. Thursday, playing with Rachel Rohanna and Gigi Stoll. Sturgeon plays at 12:05 p.m. with Katelyn Dambaugh and Sophie Hausman.

Story by Kurt Kragthorpe for Fairways Media, Photos by Cactus Tour/Noah Montgomery and Fairways Media/Randy Dodson.

GAU Media Kit 2021 - Cover

Golf Alliance for Utah Media Kit

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Utah’s golf economy generates nearly a billion dollars of economic impact, supporting nearly 10,000 jobs and wage income of over $300 million. 

That’s an industry worth growing and protecting. Click here for more information: http://bit.ly/GolfAllianceUtah

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Utah Section PGA Office: Governor’s Golf Industry Service Award

By Kurt Kragthorpe

The board of directors and staff members of the Utah Section PGA prefer to give awards, rather than receive them. Yet from his vantage point as the Section president, Valley View Golf Course Head Professional Dustin Volk recognized that one of 2020’s awards needed to stay in-house.

Volk nominated the Section staff, led by Executive Director Devin Dehlin, for Governor’s Golf Industry Service Award. He didn’t have to do much convincing of the other voters.

“I think we have the best Section staff in the country, for all that they do,” said Section Vice President Kent McComb. “As Section officers, they just make our job so easy. It’s pretty impressive.”

The Section staff’s defining trait of 2020 is how so many PGA programs and events were staged in normal fashion, or as close to it as possible amid a pandemic. Two undertakings, in particular, reflected both the staff’s determination to stay on schedule and willingness to make adjustments.

In the absence of sanctioned high school girls golf tournaments, the Section conducted an individual competition (two separate events, actually) for players in each classification. And with the innovation of off-site pro-am events at Thanksgiving Point Golf Club, the Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open stayed on track at Riverside Country Club.

Dehlin’s staff includes Annie Fisher, assistant executive director; Aaron Goodman, tournament director; Cecily Bloxham, office manager; Jesse Dodson, media and communications; and Cassie Campos, junior golf.

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Robert McArthur: Utah PGA Doug Vilven Distinguished Service Award

By Kurt Kragthorpe

The late Doug Vilven may or may not have approved of the new Utah Section PGA annual award that carries his name, but he undoubtedly would have endorsed the first recipient.

Robert McArthur, now retired after serving as Riverside Country Club’s longtime head professional, shared Vilven’s commitment to educating PGA pros. They worked together for 25 years or more as faculty members in the PGA training program in what McArthur describes as an effort to “help people along the way; that’s what this business is all about.”

Of course, McArthur’s response to receiving an award for his service is to insist that his instructor’s role was partly self-serving.

“You kind of get reenergized, going out and teaching young golf professionals that are coming along,” he said. “It helps you to refocus on what you’re doing at your club.”

McArthur did his job well, for a long time. He was named the Section’s Professional of the Year in 1989, and his influence will be noticeable for years to come. Just look at recent Utah Section PGA awards. Craig Norman, a former Riverside assistant pro, was the 2019 Professional of the Year. Kent McComb, who succeeded Norman, is the 2020 Jeff Beaudry Golf Ambassador Award recipient. And to extend the McArthur tree, Joel Grose – Norman’s assistant at Hobble Creek Golf Course — is the 2020 Assistant Professional of the Year.

McArthur, directly or indirectly, had a lot to do with the way those pros approach their jobs. “Just knowing him has made me a better person,” McComb said.

Kent McComb

Kent McComb: Jeff Beaudry Golf Ambassador Award

By Kurt Kragthorpe

The subject is slightly awkward. Imagine asking someone how they became a nice person.

The question is not all that silly, though. The way anyone treats other people is a modeled behavior, and that’s the case with Bountiful Ridge Golf Course Head Pro Kent McComb, who’s a product of some great examples in the golf profession.

True to his nature, McComb mentions a lot of them as a starting point, and then he keeps adding to the list. Robert McArthur, a mentor for 10 years as the former head professional at Riverside Country Club, is high on the list – not that he’ll take any credit for McComb’s personality.

“He’s probably the most loyal friend a guy can have,” McArthur said. “He genuinely cares about people. He treats everybody as if you’re his best friend; he’s that kind of guy.”

McComb adds Utah Golf Hall of Fame class of 2020 inductee Scott Whittaker and Bountiful Ridge’s Assistant PGA Professional Scott Olsen as two with major influence.

“Robert and Whitt are truly two of the greatest golf professionals I know,” he says. “More important they are even better people and friends. Their examples of professionalism is something I will always cherish. Scott has also been a great mentor and an example in my life.”

McComb says the best example is right in his own home: his wife, Jenilee. Before her, it was his parents, followed by a long list of other key influences, such as former Bountiful City Manager Tom Hardy and former Riverside General Manager Parley Peterson. Within the Utah Section PGA, he credits Robert and Reed McArthur, Jeff Jerman, Steve Wathen and the late Jeff Smith – and he’ll probably spend the rest of the year worrying about people he failed to mention.

That’s what makes McComb who he is, and that’s why he’s deserving of an award that honors Jeff Beaudry, whose kindness is among the traits that made him a member of the Utah Golf Hall of Fame.